The Issue of Psychiatric Drugs

Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations

May 04, 2010 Belmont Media Center, Belmont, MA

Robert Whitaker, Author of Anatomy of an Epidemic

Despite great advances in the treatment of mental distress and disabilities, the disability rate due to mental illness rose six-fold on a per-capita basis between 1955 and 2007. Is it possible that our drug-based paradigm of care, for some reason, is fueling this epidemic?

Robert Whitaker has explored this issue in his widely acclaimed book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, in which he provides a comprehensive evaluation of studies on long-term outcomes of psychotropic drugs for schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and bipolar illness.

In this presentation, Whitaker focuses on two concerns. First, if a review of the scientific literature contradicts the conventional medical wisdom, why is this contradictory information unknown to the public? Second, how can a journalist successfully present such information to the public?

Robert Whitaker is the author of Anatomy of an Epidemic, Mad in America, The Mapmaker’s Wife, and On the Laps of Gods, all of which have won recognition as “notable books” of the year. His newspaper and magazine articles on the mentally ill and the pharmaceutical industry have garnered several national awards, including a George Polk Award for medical writing and a National Association of Science Writers Award for best magazine article. A series he co-wrote for the Boston Globe on the abuse of mental patients in research settings was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1998.